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Hendricks County 4-H turns to virtual world during quarantine 

Hendricks County 4-H turns to virtual world during quarantine

By Lindsay Doty

During the COVID-19 quarantine, Hendricks County 4-H leaders have been turning to online meetings and workshops to connect with members.

“Hendricks County 4-H has started to offer virtual project workshops and 4-H Club meetings thanks to our dedicated 4-H volunteers. We have ramped up our social media engagement, including more YouTube videos with activities and information,” said Hendricks County 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator Kati Sweet.

The team is even looking at conducting a virtual 4-H camp for kids who were scheduled to go in June.

“While we may not currently be able to hold face-to-face meetings or events, it doesn’t change the fact that our program is still trying to positively develop our youth,” said Sweet. “I think this situation is changing the world, but it isn’t changing the fact that 4-H is still 4-H and we will continue to ‘Make the Best Better.'”

Sweet, like many others in this time, is juggling 4-H leadership and parenting at her home in Danville. She remains passionate about keeping her members engaged during the new normal.

At the state 4-H level, there are virtual workshops offered to 4-Hers on topics ranging from animal science to cake decorating.

“The neat thing about these workshops has been getting kids from parts of the state in attendance that may not have had a workshop like this offered in their county,” she said.

Indiana 4-H has also started gathering online activities around the state to showcase topics like dog showmanship and horse safety. Nationally, 4-H families can access the 4-H At Home guide that has activities for kids that can be done with stuff from around the house. Leaders across Indiana say they are sharing resources more than ever during this unique time.

“Right now, and always, 4-H Youth Development will continue to provide opportunities for youth to learn, grow, develop skills and showcase and celebrate their achievements. We will try new things and relate to each other in innovative ways. We will harness the resilience and determination 4-H has taught us, and we will stand in awe of the individuals and communities 4-H has built,” said Casey Mull, Indiana 4-H program leader in a message sent out to all 4-H families.

As summer approaches, so do questions about July fair season.

“Our goal is to have county fairs. We may have to postpone them. They may have to look differently than they have in the past, but county fairs have always been and will forever remain a celebration of education, agriculture and community — just like our treasured state fair. At Purdue Extension and in 4-H, we take pride in our can-do attitude, our innovation, our resilience and just old fashioned grit. These are the values that will be on display at our county fairs in 2020,” said Jason Henderson, director of Purdue Extension.

In Hendricks County, Sweet said the 4-H Youth Council and 4-H Fair Board are moving forward with July fair programming, knowing it may look different than in the past.

“We can’t predict the future, but we are working to figure out plan A-Z in order to be prepared when the announcement comes as to what July will look like, so we can act quickly,” said Sweet. “No matter what this summer ends up like, we will find a way to celebrate our members, their hard work and their dedication to the 4-H Program.”

Hendricks County 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator Kati Sweet gives updates from her home online to 4-H members doing the COVID-19 situation, answering questions about cancellations and new approaches to 4-H. (Photo provided by Sweet)

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